Holiday shoppers in three states found something new among the sweaters and scented candles this season: the opportunity to invest in hope by making a donation at an American Red Cross store or kiosk.
From Minnetonka, Minn., to Las Vegas to Phoenix, Red Cross chapters opened pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers where gift-seekers could make donations to help provide relief for victims of disaster and help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
“Every day people in our community are searching for meaningful ways to express gratitude to loved ones, friends and even total strangers who have made a difference in their lives,” said Phil Hansen, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross Twin Cities Area Chapter in Minnesota. “The Red Cross Store of Hope gives people a new gift-buying experience.”
In the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, visitors can chat with volunteers from the Southern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross at an appropriately futuristic kiosk, where spotlights hang from a silver oblong canopy and brighten the photos that illustrate the work that donations will support. In Phoenix, shoppers at the Desert Ridge Marketplace will find shelves filled with Red Cross merchandise artfully surrounding a bright cross formed from red doors.
Shoppers who can’t reach one of the Hope Stores and want to give “Gifts that Save the Day” can peruse the Red Cross’ online holiday giving catalog. The catalog offers more than 20 gift ideas, such as assisting someone in the military with a phone card or supplies; providing food and shelter to a disaster victim; covering the costs of snacks at a blood drive; or giving basic necessities to a family in another country. The catalog is also available in Spanish at www.cruzrojaamericana.org/catalogo.
The purchase of each gift item through the online catalog is a tax-deductible contribution to the overall mission of the American Red Cross. On the rare occasion when donations exceed the need in a particular area, the Red Cross will use the contribution to help others where the need is greatest.
The idea for the Hope Stores was imported from Portugal, where the Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha) opened in a popular mall in Lisbon in December 2008. Shoppers select cards and other tokens reflecting their charitable gifts, providing a memento to share with the honoree.
“This is a product you can’t hear or touch, but you can feel it,” said Bill Epps, chief executive officer of the Grand Canyon Red Cross Chapter in Phoenix. “When you make a purchase at the Red Cross Hope store, you’ll give hope to a military member and his family coping with a crisis, hope to a family whose home flooded, even hope to children who need a vaccination to stay alive.”